March 06, 2008
Over the past week, some of the best baseball blog reading has come from Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog.com. From getting a personal lesson in the circle changeup from Johan Santana to the politics of the parking lot order, Cerrone has turned the access of a press pass (granted by SNY, his employer) into a view that most fans can't get.
That doesn't mean the week hasn't come without its share of learning experiences. Just this morning, Cerrone showed up at Tradition Field to find an empty work room because the Mets are playing a road night game and no one shows up until early afternoon.
"I am the definition of amateur hour folks," Cerrone writes.
I caught up with Cerrone at Wednesday's game and talked a little bit about crossing the line into the world of access, talking pitching with Johan Santana and whether or not he'd like to do this on a regular basis.
BLS: So SNY, the network you blog for, sent you down here for a week to blog about the Mets training camp experience. How did that come about and how has it been going so far?
Cerrone: Well, they sent me down here, armed me with a laptop and a little video camera and this great Nikon that they’re going to have to pry from my dead hands to get back because I love that thing. I’ve just been kinda hanging with some of the SNY guys and I’ve been trying not to get in any trouble.
So far, so good, I think.
BLS: Until this point, you’ve been strictly a fan who watched the games from home and from the stands. You haven’t really ventured into the Mets clubhouse or the New York media world. What has surprised you? What weren’t you prepared for?
Cerrone: I think what I’m noticing is that I took a lot for granted. From what the writers do to what the players do … from the outside, it seems like it just happens. Everybody can hit a curve ball and these guys just file their reports and everything works like clockwork. But there’s actually hard work involved that I didn’t realize. I just took it for granted and that’s really surprised me.
Not that I didn’t think everybody worked hard, but you don’t see it and so you don’t think about it. So it seems automatic, which I guess is a credit to the whole collective work ethic.
But building on that work idea, I also realized that this is work for these guys. As I wrote this morning, they're just going to work. The players and reporters are sitting in traffic together and they might as well be wearing suits and ties. It’s different, but it’s not that much different.
BLS: Before we go on, has anyone ever told you that you bear a striking resemblance to former Met catcher Paul Lo Duca?
Cerrone: (laughing) I was talking to Ron Darling and some guy he used to play with and they both said the same thing! I’m like, ‘Except I’m half his size and clearly not him.”
But it’s funny. I hope I don’t get Lo Duca in trouble by being his “lookalike.”
BLS: Have the players been pretty receptive to a blogger roaming the clubhouse?
Cerrone: They do what they do. They know everyone has a job to do and they've been great. I got a chance the other day to spend some time with Johan Santana at his locker, which was great.
Apparently he’s never at his locker, but it was a day game and everyone else was on the road and apparently he didn’t think any reporters were around. So I just went strolling through (the clubhouse.)
That’s always just been my approach with this stuff. I don’t want quotes just for the sake of getting them. I’m curious by nature, so if I have a question I’ll ask it. I used to throw the circle change when I was young. Obviously I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, so to hear about it from the best pitcher out there, that’s a great thing. I love knowledge like that.
BLS: How long have you been writing MetsBlog?
Cerrone: This will be my fifth season writing it. I’ve been doing it full time for about two years and I’ve worked with SNY since last fall. It’s been interesting.
BLS: You’re one of the first bloggers to get this kind of access during spring training. Do you feel a responsibility not to screw it up for people who might apply for credentials in the future? Do you recognize that you’re setting a precedent here?
Cerrone: (laughing) Not until you just mentioned it.
Seriously, they gave me a laptop and this camera and said, ‘Just go at it.’ Look, I’m not a professional journalist. I’m not ashamed of that. It is what it is. That rubs some people the wrong way and then others are really encouraged by it … on both sides.
BLS: Both sides meaning both mainstream media and bloggers?
Cerrone: Yeah, and that’s understandable. I’ll probably find that out the hard way what the responsibility was, but I try not to think about it. At the end of the day, the blog is just my experience as a fan. If that happens to be because I write well and they want to send me to camp, that’s great. I’ll do this the same way I do everything else … as responsible as I can.
BLS: Do you have any plans to ask for access during the season?
Cerrone: I don’t know. I’m not sure how I would even feel about that.
BLS: Would you even want to?
Cerrone: If I can bring something to the table, then yes. But I wouldn’t want to do what the reporters and columnists do because frankly, I don’t think I’d be very good at that. I don’t just want to come and try and do what they do. If I can do something that’s different, then I’d love to do it.
Hopefully what I’ve done down here has been different.
BLS thanks Matt Cerrone for his cooperation. For more, visit metsblog.com.